The Girl Scouts of America are campaigning against girls being forced to hug and kiss family and friends during the holidays.
The organization wants parents to reconsider urging their girls to show physical affection when greeting someone they have not seen in awhile or when receiving gifts.
Girl Scouts said forcing a girl to give hugs and kisses when being greeted or shown a nice gesture can set the stage for subconscious programming that girls “owe” another person physical affection for nice gestures later in life.
The Girl Scouts have consulted with a psychologist who has affirmed this theory. Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, the Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist said:
“The notion of consent may seem very grown-up and like something that doesn't pertain to children. But the lessons girls learn when they’re young about setting physical boundaries and expecting them to be respected last a lifetime and can influence how she feels about herself and her body as she gets older. Plus, sadly, we know that some adults prey on children, and teaching your daughter about consent early on can help her understand her rights, know when lines are being crossed, and when to go to you for help.”
The Girls Scouts are encouraging parents to give girls the opportunity to decide whether they would like to show affection toward family members and friends. However, they are not encouraging rude behavior, just that girls be allowed other alternatives to express their appreciation.
They suggest a high-five, a smile, a simple thank you or air kiss: ways girls can express their emotions comfortably to them.